Google Buzz raised more than a few eyebrows when it launched a few months ago within the company's popular e-mail service Gmail.
The product introduction took many surprise as a micro-blogging service built within an e-mail service seemed scary to some and even proved to be a bit touchy in the beginning, to which Google very quickly responded, to their credit.
In my experience over the past few years, Google has been more responsive directly to users than any other major tech firm. They actively solicit ideas and comments from users and many 'Googlers' directly interact with a variety of platforms including Buzz, Twitter, Facebook and more.
This very well could be a part of the company's success to date.
Just after the launch, the Buzz team went so far as to set-up their own account on Buzz and Dewitt Clinton and others post thoughts almost daily to the service (with comments open).
Matt Cutts, Adam Lasnik, Rick Klau and numerous others can be found 'buzzing' (and also tweeting) on any given day. Google VP Marissa Mayer has also been answering tweets, although not quite as often, on both Buzz and Twitter. There are many others.
The point is that Google really does want to know what YOU think. You don't have to be 'net famous' or be a resident of Silicon Valley. In fact, all it takes is a visit to Google Product Ideas if you want to suggest something to Mountainview.
Earlier today, after numerous tweaks to Google Buzz to continue to improve the product (and put the privacy fears at bay), the Buzz team added more features (and value), some as a direct result of user input.
1) You can now comment by e-mail, using almost any e-mail product or service.
view entire photos albums from Picasa Web Albums or Flickr within Buzz (pretty neat!).
What becomes apparent, at least to me, is that Google is now taking a two-prong approach to their audience.
The company, for the most part up until this past year, derived most of it's audience by indexing others content and very typically leading you off one of their services (most notably Google Search) to another spot on the Internet. With numerous projects now in place, many of which are 'talking' to each other, Google is also embracing the more traditional web experience by keeping you logged in and 'on site'.
In reality, Google makes most of their money by taking you somewhere else (via Adsense or DoubleClick) and puts a huge amount of resources into relevant indexing of the Internet. That huge task continues.
On the other hand, there's no doubt that Google would much rather have you logged-in and 'hanging out' within a 'Google ecosystem', while promoting their partners and other products, than losing YOUR online time to services that seem to be out to change to way you use the Internet.
Did someone say Facebook?
What does matter is that Google is trying numerous ways to grow (and maintain) their audience, monitoring the results, and most importantly, consistently reaching out to everyone, directly and indirectly. A quality that, I think differentiates the company from Microsoft and others.
Your thoughts, here or off-site on Buzz, Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook or wherever are always welcome.
Have a GREAT weekend!